I am taking another dip into my Retro Gin Fridge Tin from That Boutique-y Gin Company, a brand of Tonbridge-based Atom Brands. Rosemary is a staple botanical in the gin world, but Smoked Rosemary Gin takes it to a new level. Rather than sitting in the background adding to the general floral and herbaceous feel and flavour of a gin, here it is slap bang in the centre of the stage.
As the name suggests, the rosemary has been set on fire, adding a smoky flavour to the already distinctive taste of the herb. If you did not get the message, the label shows some smouldering rosemary leaves against a background of juniper berries. Add a good helping of juniper and you have an interesting and distinctive drink.
As soon as you unscrew the cap, you can tell that you are dealing with a drink that will take no prisoners. A heady hit of rosemary and juniper assaults your nose along with a peculiarly smoky whiff. In the mouth the rosemary is to the fore before the juniper and peppers make their presence felt while the aftertaste is long and distinctly aromatic. I found it a little too floral for my taste but I would imagine that it would be a good addition to a cocktail.
Rhubarb has long been a favourite of distillers and where better to source the fruit than the Tusky Triangle, the nine-square-mile area of West Yorkshire between Wakefield, Morley, and Rothwell, famed for producing early forced rhubarb. Yorkshire forced rhubarb became a protected name in 2010 but, sadly, the triangle has shrunk in size from its heyday in the early 20th century when it covered the area between Wakefield, Leeds, and Bradford. In 2005 Wakefield Council erected a steel and oak sculpture of a rhubarb plant standing 3.6 metres tall in Holmfield Park to celebrate its importance to the area.
Rhubarb Triangle Gin, the marketeers have eschewed the Yorkshire name for the fruit, pays homage to the area, the label using a stick of rhubarb to represent each side of a triangle. The only way I can describe the gin is that it is like my favourite pudding, rhubarb crumble, in a glass, adroitly mixing the tartness of the rhubarb with the sweetness of the citrus elements. From the immediate hit on opening the bottle to the initial taste in the mouth through to the long, lingering aftertaste, this is one rhubarb fest. The juniper and spices in the mix make a forlorn attempt to make their presence known, but there is no disputing who is the star of the show. As a rhubarb fan, I am not complaining.
The final one of this week’s trio is a gin that was apparently all the rage in the 1920s, pineapple gin, although, inevitably, That Boutique-y Gin Company put their own twist on it by producing a Spit-roasted Pineapple Gin. Yes, that’s right, the pineapple has been put on a skewer, coated with Demerara sugar, and roasted until they are caramelised. The pineapple is then added to a gin to produce then sort of fruit gin that is all the rage but is really not my cup of tea.
On the nose there is no mistaking that this is a pineapple drink and, in the mouth, it is right there at the fore with some oily juniper and a touch of honey. The drink signs off with a lingering melange of pineapple and caramel. I found it surprisingly syrupy and a tad too sweet and sickly for my taste, but that is the joy of sampling, not every gin will hit the spot for you.
A word of warning. A bottle of it is prone to produce a sediment, a by-product of the interaction between the fruit and the spirit. It does not affect the drink and can either be poured off or dispersed by shaking the bottle.
I will review then last three gins in the pack next time. Until then, cheers!